TUBMAN HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
REESE LIBRARY AUGUSTA COLLEGE
Garrett, T. Harry, 1874-1 010104 003
Tubman High School for girls.
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Tubman High School for Girls*
By T. H. Garrett
Principal of Tubman High School, Augusta, Georgia
Co-education in American public high schools is 99.44 per cent pure.
That is to say, these schools are nearly all co-educational. More than a
thousand public high schools are now members of the Southern Association
of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Of this number, only eight or ten —
according to the best count I can make — are for girls only. Tubman is
one of this small number. It is a safe guess to make that many other high
schools would like to be in this select company. When love breaks out in
adolescent life, the wisest school administrator is sometimes put to his wits'
end to know whether to treat it as an emotional or a physical rash, or both.
Tubman High School has been a member of the Southern Association
since 1911. The school began its career in 1874 in a church. Its enroll-
ment has grown from 35 to 1,200 in these sixty-three years. The school
is named for Mrs. Emily Tubman, a native of Kentucky and a ward of
Henry Clay, who was married in Augusta and lived the remainder of a
long life here. Mrs. Tubman purchased a small Christian church building
and site valued at twelve thousand dollars and presented it to the board of
education to be used as a high school for girls. Prior to that time "female
education" had been carried on by private teachers and in a few private
"seminaries of learning." In reporting this generous gift, the superintendent
of schools expressed the opinion that "It surely ought to settle for all time
the high school question in the city of Augusta."
The first faculty consisted of "one male and one female." In 1877 the
first class of six girls was graduated. They had "completed with satisfaction
to those in authority" a three years course. This is what they had studied :
First Tear. Arithmetic, spelling and defining, Latin, French, rhetoric, natural
philosophy, penmanship, reading, history.
Second Tear. Arithmetic, algebra, synonymes, Latin, French, natural philosophy,
physical geography, penmanship, reading, history.
Third Tear. Algebra, Latin, French, English literature, physical geography,
chemistry, astronomy, penmanship, reading, history, critical course in parsing.
Students could choose between Latin and French. Calisthenics twice a
week was required of all students. Wand drills and dumb-bell exercises
were popular numbers on the program of frequent public exhibitions.
Girls were allowed to remove their corsets and bustles for these exercises.
No other concession was made to freedom of movement or to display of
* This article is a refreshing account of a school that is "different." In these days when
we have so effectively "standardized" everything, it is inspiring to know that there is a
school or an individual now and then who not only does not mind being different but is
proud of it. Tubman High is such a school and Principal Garrett is such an individual
school man. — Editor.
390 THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION QUARTERLY
form. Bloomers were unknown. The modern one-piece gym suit was
The course of study seems to have been practically unchanged during
the first twenty years. There was no science laboratory of any kind. A
wall map of the United States and a map of the Ancient Roman Empire
were all the equipment the school had. Steele's "Fourteen Weeks" scries
of science textbooks was text and laboratory.
The school seems to have been popular from the beginning. Indeed it
soon established a place in the affection of the city that made "Tubman
Girls" synonymous with "charm school." The annual commencements
were events that always packed the "Grand Opera House" to the doors.
"The sweet girl graduate" was annually written up in the local papers as
a "vision of loveliness." Here is a typical commencement program :
Class Motto : "To Do, Not to Dream"
Welcome Song School
Recitation : "Annie's Ticket"
Song — "Sweet Vision of Childhood" School
Recitation : "Dream of Eugene Aram"
Song — "Welcome Pretty Primrose" School
Recitation : "Sam Weller's Valentine"
Song — "Alpine Herdsman" School
Recitation: "Little Jerry"
Song — "Down Among the Lilies" School
Address — [Local Celebrity]
Presentation of Prizes
Presentation of Diplomas
Song : "The Severed Chain" School
The school grew slowly. "Woman's 'spear' " was still in the home. There
she didn't need much education. At Tubman the faculty of "one male
and one female" continued to teach all subjects. At the end of the fourth
year, the superintendent of schools reported that the "male" had left the
school. Another male was elected in his place.
A fourth year was added to the course of study in 1892. "The studies
were extended into higher mathematics, history, literature, and science, and
the course of study required for graduation is as high as most of our southern
colleges and institutions of learning." (Superintendent's report.) At this
time a special teacher of physical culture was employed to visit the school
once a week. A study had disclosed a condition, sought now to be remedied,
as follows : "By bending over books and slates in school, the chest becomes
contracted, the blood flows to the brain, and the extremities become cold.
After a while the wooden seats get uncomfortable, the brain grows weary,
and the girls turn and twist at their desks and long for bodily action."
TUBMAN HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS 391
Hence the course in physical culture "to draw the blood away from the
brain and into the vital organs and limbs."
For many years during the earlier period of the school's history the finan-
cial report of the Board of Education showed, apparently with some pride,
that the cost of instruction was about Si. 05 per pupil per month. In 1937
it is about S7.00 per month.
Twice the original school building (church) was enlarged and improved.
Domestic science (cooking) was added to the course of study. This inno-
vation did not at first meet with popular approval. The comment was
frequently heard that the girls' mothers could "learn their daughters to
cook at home." Once when one of the girls left the gas stove burning from
Friday afternoon to Monday morning the course in cooking came near to
being abolished as a fire hazard.
In March 19 16, the school building was destroyed by fire — which, how-
ever, did not originate in the cooking department. By this fire the school
lost not only its building but its grounds as well. It is believed that this is
the only case on record where a school lost both its building and grounds
by fire. The donor of the original building stipulated in the deed she gave
the board of education to the property that if this site were ever abandoned
as a school the grounds should become the property of the trustees of the
Richmond Academy, at that time a private school for boys. The board
of education had purchased before the fire a site of eleven acres in another
part of the city upon which at some future time to erect a larger and more
modern school building. Following the fire the school carried on in two
Sunday school buildings, the basement of one of the grade schools, and a resi-
dence. A bond issue of $100,000.00 was voted by the people to provide funds
for the erection of the new building. This was the first, but by no means
the last, bond issue voted by the citizens of Augusta and Richmond County
for school purposes. Naturally there was some opposition by the electorate.
When the plans of the new building were first published in the local papers
the comment was frequently heard : "It's too big ; they won't fill a building
like that in a hundred years." The new building was ready for use in Feb-
ruary 1918. In three years it was "filled." The objectors had to admit
that they had missed their guess by ninety-seven years ; which, after all, is
not a bad guess for the average school critic of the streets. The enrollment
began to increase rapidly. In 19 18 there were 312 girls in attendance.
Today the enrollment nears the 1,200 mark. The faculty has increased
from one male and one female to forty-one females and one male. From
the beginning, the school principal has been a man. In the history of the
school there have been only four principals. One served six years, another
three years, a third eighteen years. The present principal is now in his
thirty-fourth year of service. The local papers sometimes refer to him as
392 THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION QUARTERLY
a "veteran educator." This form of reference does not appeal to him as
the most appropriate or tactful.
Dr. Lawton B. Evans, whom many will remember as one of the out-
standing educators of the South, served as superintendent of the Augusta
schools for more than fifty years. He saw the growth and development of
Tubman High School with interest and pride from its simple beginnings to
its present-day maturity. The school now is equipped with modern re-
quirements for the variety of courses of study offered in cosmopolitan high
schools in the same educational field. Not once in its twenty-six years of
membership in the Southern Association has Tubman High School been
warned of any failure to meet the Association's required standards. Those
who were responsible for the development of the school have felt that the
responsibility of running the best school they could was upon themselves.
At the same time, they have tried to keep within the laws of the Association
and to be worthy of a membership which for more than a quarter of a cen-
tury Tubman High School has prized.
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